Observers of U.S.-German relations were probably not startled by former President Bush’s disclosure in his memoir, Decision Points, that former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder deceived the U.S. government about his pledge to support America’s toppling of Saddam's regime in Iraq.
According to Bush, Schröder told him in January 2002 that "What is true of Afghanistan is true of Iraq. Nations that sponsor terror must face consequences. If you make it fast and make it decisive, I will be with you.”
Bush added, "Once that trust was violated, it was hard to have a constructive relationship again” with Schröder. Schröder violated that trust by ultimately reneging on his support for the war in Iraq.
The German chancellor responded by saying that President Bush is “not telling the truth” in his memoirs. “As we know today, the Bush administration's reasons for the Iraq war were based on lies,” added the current Gazprom oil executive Schröder, who maintains that Putin was a "flawless democrat" during his tenure as Russian president. He has also gone to great lengths to make Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad politically and socially respectable, visiting him in 2009 to expand business ties between Iran and Germany and Russia and Iran.
That explains why the late Democratic congressman Tom Lantos called Schröder a “political prostitute.”
The anti-Americanism of Schröder’s Social Democrats was captured by his former spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye, who commented on Bush’s memoir: "We noticed that the intellectual reach of the president of the most important nation at the time was exceptionally low. For this reason it was difficult to communicate with him. He had no idea what was happening in the world. He was so fixated on being a Texan.” Heye was the editor in chief of the Social Democratic newspaper Vorwärts between 2006-2010.
Schröder was arguably the most anti-American post-World War II German chancellor. His Social Democratic election campaign in the summer of 2002 revolved around a wave of mass anti-U.S. hysteria in the former East German Stalinist states. He crudely exploited the widespread radical pacifism of the population in the now defunct German Democratic Republic (and in West Germany) to garner votes for election victory.
As Malte Lehming, the opinion page editor of the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, wrote about Schröder’s red alliance with the Green party in the Wall Street Journal: “But then they saved themselves with thunderous anti-Iraq war propaganda, playing upon strong anti-American resentments.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.